Thursday, 8 January 2015

IMPC 2014: A Polish Perspective

I have received a short report on last year's IMPC in Santiago, from Przemyslaw Kowalczuk of Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland. The authors of the report are shown below at the IMPC.
Delegation of Wroclaw University of Technology (from left: Danuta Szyszka, Alicja Bakalarz,
Magdalena Duchnowska, Jan Drzymala, Andrzej Luszczkiewicz, Urszula Kazmierczak,
Przemyslaw Kowalczuk, Tomasz Chmielewski)
Below is a slightly edited version of the Wroclaw report:
 Poland was represented by a strong delegation, as an important event was the bid for organizing the IMPC in 2020. There were 5 candidate countries (France, Germany, Poland, South Africa, USA). The Polish presentation was very well received. The short list now contains Poland, South Africa, and USA. The list will be further narrowed during the next Congress, which will be held in Quebec City, in Canada, in 2016.
Polish IMPC bid delegation with IMPC members : from right Eric Forssberg (IMPC member),
Tomasz Chmielewski, Rod Elvish (IMPC member), Cyril O’Connor (chair of IMPC),
Jim Finch (IMPC 2016), Andrzej Luszczkiewicz, Juan Yianatos (IMPC 2014),
Jan Drzymala and Vladko Panayotov
 The paper by M. Powell, B. Foggiatto and M.Hilden (Practical simulation of FlexCircuit processing options, IMPC 2014) presented the idea of flexible mineral processing circuits. This theme seems to be the most important destination of mineral processing. The idea of flexible mineral processing, according to the authors, was introduced by Powell and Bye in 2009. Mineral processing plants, which will be using the flexible processing approach, will reduce the cost of processing, improve upgrading outcome and increase control of process by fast responce to changes in ore properties. The flexible processing of materials is based on several essential elements discussed by the participants of the Congress. The most important seems to be advances in automated process control. It will lead to reduction of process variability, allowing maintainance of high throughput and keeping the process within certain constraints. The flexible processing approach will be possible by proper sampling, on-line process mineralogy, and using proper process models based on simulation and optimization.
According to F. Pitard (Correct sampling system and statistical tool for metallurgical process, IMPC 2014) proper sampling is an important element of flexible processing. Presently, bad sampling practices plague the scientific community and industry. It is responsible for money loses and unsatisfactory science. Equally important is on-line characterization of material using automated mineralogy. 
According to papers presented at the Congress, automated mineralogy can be based, depending on processed material, on analysis provided by QEMSCAN, MLA, XPS Rietveld XRD, Laser Induced Fluorescence, Raman Spectroscopy, Synchrotron X-ray Microprobe and other techniques. These techniques seem to be in an early stage of development in application to mineral processing since, according to many Congress papers, there are numerous problems associated with distinction between certain minerals (for instance between tennantite and enargite), difficulties to see surface films, surface contaminations, amorphous phases, carbonaceous matter, very fine and highly disseminated particles, as well as recognizing differences in degree of crystallinity, complex solid solutions and mineral series. Also important is proper simulation of properties based on the texture and properties of ores and particle liberation and simulation of the whole process to keep the flexible circuits running under optimal conductions.
The most discussed topic was flotation and related issues. The importance of efficiency of comminution, water management, environmental aspects and role of hydrometallurgy in supplementing flotation methods of upgrading, which were also discussed during the Congress, is worth mentioning.
Professor Roe-Hoan Yoon from USA received the Lifetime Achievement Award (Prof. Janusz Laskowski obtained this award in 2008) while Dr. Barry Wills was the recipient of the award for Distinguished Service to the mineral processing community. There were 10 awards for young scientists.
A photo session with the recipient of the Distinguished Service to mineral processing community award Dr. Barry Wills
One of the organizers of the IMPC 2014 was the University of Chile, Department of Mining Engineering. The Polish delegation spent one day (October 24, 2014) visiting the University. Our host was Prof. Willy Kracht. We discussed current issues of mineral processing and possible cooperation between our Universities.  We also visited the area of Valparaiso, the location of another Congress organizer, University of Tecnica Federico Santa Maria, Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering. The chairman of IMPC was Prof. Juan Yianatos from that University. We have collected heavy minerals and beach sand samples from the Pacific Ocean area in the Valparaiso region.
IMPC 2014 was a great and fruitful event.

I would like to thank Przemislaw for providing this report on the IMPC through Polish eyes, and I wish Poland every success in the bid to host the 2020 IMPC. The last IMPC to be held in Poland was in 1979, in Warsaw under the chairmanship of Prof. Janusz Laskowski, and the time is ripe for a return to that beautiful and friendly country.

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